Universal Horror Collection: Volume 5 - The Monster and the Girl Blu-ray Review

Written by Robert Gold

Blu-ray released by Scream Factory

Directed by Stuart Heisler
Written by Stuart Anthony
1941, 65 minutes, Not rated
Released on June 16th, 2020

Ellen Drew as Susan Webster
Rod Cameron as Sam Daniels
Robert Paige as Larry Reed
Paul Lukas as W.S. Bruhl
Joseph Calleia as Deacon
George Zucco as Dr. Parry



Susan Webster and her brother Scot live a happy small-town life, but she feels the calling of the big city. Not long after her arrival, the promise of a better life is shattered when she is tricked into a sham marriage by an organized crime syndicate led by a Mr. W. H. Bruhl and forced into a life of prostitution. Scot learns of her plight and comes to the rescue only to be set up by Bruhl’s men, framing him for a murder. Bad luck follows the Websters and Scot is found guilty and sentenced to death. He is visited in prison by Dr. Parry, who wishes to experiment on his brain. After his execution Scot’s body is taken to the doctor’s lab where his brain is transplanted into the body of a gorilla! Scot retains his memories of the gangsters who caused his family so much trouble and hunts them down for murderous revenge.

The Monster and the Girl starts off as a courtroom melodrama with an innocent man on trial for his life. Through a series of flashbacks we learn the sordid details of gangsters and white slavery and murder. At the halfway point the picture takes an abrupt turn and introduces elements of a monster movie. The last twenty minutes find a giant gorilla stalking victims in the night and crushing them to death with brute strength. The picture takes its time deciding what it wants to be and the screenwriters have thrown in a little something for everybody.

There is an interesting subgenre of horror movies of the 1930s and ‘40s featuring apes and gorillas at the center of the story. Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932) likely kicked off the craze, followed by the wildly popular King Kong (1933), which made all things primate appealing to audiences. For this film, make-up artist Charles Gamora (War of the Worlds) designed the wonderful gorilla suit and performs the role himself. Monster movies are typically only as good as their beast and this one is quite entertaining.


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